Skip Navigation

George Brainard: Sleep Quality

George Brainard: Sleep Quality

Astronaut Mike Fossum in his sleeping bag, which is attached to the lockers on the middeck of Space Shuttle Discovery.
Courtesy of NASA.

George C. Brainard, PhD, a neuroscientist working with the National Space Biological Research Institute (NSBRI), is researching circadian rhythms and space flight. Brainard describes his work with lighting systems, which may help to improve the quality of astronauts' sleep and improve their daily performance in space. Light, enriched in the blue end of the spectrum, appears to help maintain circadian rhythms and regular sleep cycles in space.

This research could aid people on Earth who experience circadian rhythm irregularities, such as those caused by seasonal affective disorder. Circadian rhythms are approximate 24-hour behavioral, physiological or molecular cycles in living organisms regulated by an internal biological clock.

Short Version

Download mp3

Long Version

Download mp3


Grades K-8

Grades 3-8

  • Sleep and Daily Rhythms
    Activities developed for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute by the Center for Education Outreach at Baylor College of Medicine.

Grades 5-12

Related Content

  • Sleep and Daily Rhythms

    Sleep and Daily Rhythms Presentation

    Charles A. Czeisler, MD, PhD, explains the body’s “internal clock,” how sleep patterns are impacted by spaceflight and microgravity, and strategies to counteract these impacts.

  • Sleep and Human Performance

    Sleep and Human Performance Presentation

    Join David F. Dinges, PhD, as he describes studies being conducted to understand and limit effects of inadquate sleep and how these problems affect both astronauts on space missions and patients on Earth.